The Cleveland Guardians enjoyed the breakout of a really talented pitching trio in 2023: Tanner Bibee, Gavin Williams, and Logan Allen all left their mark for an extended period of time.
Imagine what could have been if the team had been able to count on Shane Bieber (128 innings) and Triston McKenzie (16 frames) to pitch more and guide them.
Bieber did manage to pitch some, but McKenzie’s season was completely derailed by a teres major strain and a right elbow sprain.
It was a shame, because he posted a 2.96 ERA in 191.1 innings in 2022, showing ace potential.
The elbow ligament injury was the most problematic.
However, the right-hander ended the season on the MLB roster and was able to have a relatively normal offseason by all accounts.
He is now getting ready and throwing bullpen sessions, per the team on Twitter, and the fact he is set to enter spring training in one piece means a lot for the Guardians rotation.
— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) January 19, 2024
There is an argument to be made that at this point that McKenzie has the most talented arm on the Guardians.
Having him healthy means the team has an ace; another one.
He appears to be throwing at close to max speed in preparation for the upcoming season.
If he can regain his 2022 form, it’s hard to see the Guardians missing the postseason: he is just too good when healthy.
Hopefully, that’s the case.
He appears poised to lead a young rotation in what could be Bieber’s last year on the Guardians.
“Sticks,” as he is called, represents the present and the future of the Guardians’ pitching plans.